Miami v. duhOSU and Bob Morris/PSU
Miami returns to action this weekend in the Three Rivers Classic at CONSOL Energy Center
Despite two of Miami’s heralded freshmen (Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly) playing in the World Junior Championship in Russia this week, the #5 Miami RedHawks (11-3-4, 8-3-3-3 T1st CCHA) return to action to face a familiar foe, the Ohio State Buckeyes (7-6-5, 6-3-3-1 4th CCHA) Friday at 7:30pm in the second game of the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. Miami tied and defeated the Buckeyes in the final two games before the two-week winter break at Cheap Furniture Arena in Columbus on December 14 and 15. Friday’s game will be the RedHawks third consecutive game against their in-state rivals who will meet at least five times this year. This game will not count in the overall CCHA standings as this will be considered a non-conference affair.
In the earlier series, Miami received superb goaltending from freshmen Jay Williams and Ryan McKay and stout defense as they limited the Buckeyes to only two goals on the weekend. duhOSU senior Brady Hjelle nearly matched the Miami freshmen allowing one goal Friday and just two on Saturday, but the RedHawks won a shootout Friday night and took Saturday’s game in regulation to earn five league points on the weekend. The RedHawks outshot Ohio State 63-46 on the weekend as they limited the Buckeyes’ chances in both games and probably should have won both outright. In six starts, Ryan McKay has surrendered just three goals as he has proven himself quite tough to beat.
Offensively, the RedHawks were led by the usual suspects, Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber, with supplemental scoring from Alex Gacek and Blake Coleman on Saturday, while senior Curtis McKenzie scored Miami’s lone goal Friday night on a third period powerplay to send the game to overtime where Miami eventually won the aforementioned shootout. Freshman Jay Williams was again victorious in Friday’s shootout and he has not allowed a single shooter to beat him in the skills competition stopping all 7 opponent attempts.
Looking at the weekend, on Saturday, there seems to be some confusion (well, at least I’m confused) about whom Miami will face. I’ve heard conflicting reports that Miami will definitely face Robert Morris but MURedHawks.com is saying it is a tournament-style event meaning the losers of Friday’s contests will play Saturday at 4:30pm with the winners playing the nightcap. However, we’ve also heard that Penn State and duhOSU would like to play to get their little Big Ten hockey thing going, and really, who’s to stop those two juggernauts of the ice from doing so (i.e., no one cares)? Anyway, Miami will most certainly face one of the two Pennsylvania schools on Saturday night as they look to get the second half of the season started on the right track. Frankly, it’s nice that Miami was off only one weekend and they face a rival right off the bat to keep the team sharp.